Richmond blanked: Flying Squirrels on playoff brink

richmond-squirrelsThe Richmond Flying Squirrels (70-68) had their playoff hopes almost extinguished following a 2-0 defeat to Reading on Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd at The Diamond. Reading right-hander Jake Thompson narrowly bested Squirrels ace Joe Biagini to even the series for the Phils. It appeared the Squirrels postseason aspirations were over, but Binghamton rallied late to defeat for Altoona to keep playoff hopes alive. The elimination number for Richmond is one, meaning Altoona has to lose their final two games and the Squirrels have to win the last two on Sunday and Monday to advance.  The sellout was the 7th of the season for the Squirrels. The series continues on Sunday with LHP Kelvin Marte on the mound for Richmond.

For the second consecutive game, Reading pushed across a run on the first inning. Squirrels starting pitcher Joe Biagini walked Angelo Mora and Brock Stassi to put runners on for Rene Garcia. Garcia lined a ball into right field to plate Mora for a 1-0. The RBI single extended Garcia’s hitting streak to 11 games. Garcia had three singles and a run scored in the effort.

Joe Biagini settled in after the walks in the first and allowed just the one run on three hits over six innings of work. Biagini (10-7) struck out four on 85 pitches in his final outing of the regular season. Adalberto Mejia entered in the seventh and yielded a run to give Reading a 2-0 edge. Garica led off the seventh with a single and moved to second on a walk. Brodie Greene executed a bunt to move both runners into scoring position and a slow ground ball up the third base line plated Garcia for the insurance run.

The Squirrels offense was dormant against Reading starting pitcher Jake Thompson. Thompson (5-1) earned the win by not allowing a run over six inning of work. The righty allowed just four hits and struck out six before handing the ball to Jimmy Cordero with a 2-0 lead. Cordero retired all six batters he faced to earn the hold and bring the game into the ninth inning. Closer Stephen Schackleford entered in the ninth inning and worked around a lead off based hit from Skyler Stromsmoe to finish the job.

The Squirrels will play the penultimate game of the regular season on Sunday afternoon against Reading at The Diamond. Squirrels LHP Kelvin Marte (10-6, 2.69) will make the start against Reading RHP Ben Lively (8-7, 4.31). First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 with thePregame Warmup beginning at 5:40 PM on Fox Sports 910 and The Remaining Squirrels promotional schedule is as follows: (9/5) Superblast Saturday and 20th Anniversary of Billy Madison. (9/6) Kids Club Metal Lunchbox Giveaway. (9/7) Bark In the Park #3 – Labor Day.

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